Senator Randal Howard “Rand” Paul announced his campaign for president yesterday. The Kentucky Republican’s conservative views have made headlines over the years. One topic that has been discussed less is his faith.
A recent Time magazine article on the faith of the candidates devoted 11 paragraphs to Jeb Bush’s religious beliefs, two sentences to Paul’s. We know that Paul was baptized as an Episcopalian. He attended Baylor University, a Baptist school, then earned his M.D. at Duke, which was founded by Methodists and Quakers. He now attends a Presbyterian church, where his wife is a deacon. Last summer, he joined a medical mission to Guatemala, where he treated patients with eye and vision problems.
When Paul was asked how he came to faith in Christ, he answered: “As a teenager, I found that something was missing and decided that I would find that in Jesus.” But he told the 2012 Values Voters Summit, “My faith has never been easy for me, never been easy to talk about and never been without obstacles. I do not and cannot wear my religion on my sleeve. I am a Christian but not always a good one. I’m not completely free of doubts. I struggle to understand man’s inhumanity to man. I struggle to understand the horrible tragedies that war inflicts on our young men and women.”
Our ministry does not endorse political candidates, so my purpose this morning is not to discuss Rand Paul in that context. Rather, it is to consider his faith struggles in the light of these post-Easter days.
Like Paul, I struggled greatly with the faith after first becoming a Christian at the age of 15. My father, a former Sunday school teacher, fought in World War II and never attended church again. I had all his questions—if there is a God, why is there war? How do we know the Bible is true? Why is Jesus the only way to heaven? What about science and faith? I was the kid in 10th grade Sunday school raising his hand and asking questions no one seemed to want to answer.
So I came to believe that there was something wrong with my faith. Then I was given C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. For the first time, I met someone who dealt with faith intellectually. Someone who was willing to ask hard questions. Through Lewis I learned that God wants me to love him with all my mind (Matthew 22:37). I remembered Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46), and realized that if Jesus could have doubts, so could I.
Here’s the good news: Jesus is just as alive and real today as he was on that first Easter Sunday, 20 centuries ago. (Tweet this) He speaks to us through Scripture, prayer, reason and worship just as he spoke to his first disciples. In a culture that relegates him to Easter services and Sunday religion, our living Lord stands ready to answer your deepest doubts and heal your deepest hurts, today.
Henri Nouwen: “O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.”